Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Review: Possum Magic

Find on
Find on
Title: Possum Magic
Author: Mem Fox (website)
Illustrator: Julie Vivas
Publisher: Sandpiper
Year: originally 1983
ISBN: 978-1862910959

Format: Hardcover, also available in Paperback
Pages: 32
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Early Reader
Kid Love Factor: 3.5/5

Adult Sanity Factor: 4/5

Possum Magic is the story of Hush, a young possum whose grandmother used bush magic to make her invisible.  Hush can get into all sorts of mischief and is quite safe from predators, but she longs to see what she looks like.  Grandma Poss unfortunately can't figure out what food is needed to reverse the spell, so Hush and Grandma Poss go on a tour of Australian state capitals and try all sorts of national foods until they find just the right combination to make Hush reappear.

Grandma Poss made bush magic.
She made wombats blue
and kookaburras pink.
She made dingoes smile
and emus shrink.
But the best magic of all...
Was the magic that made Hush INVISIBLE.

There aren't too many books out there that are quite as lyrical as this one.  It almost seems like a song as we read it.  I read it the same way every time and Boo's mesmerized.  There's just enough alliteration to be fun to say without it becoming annoying, though I must admit the magic starts to wear thin circa five times in a row.

The illustrations add amazingly to the story.  They're full of movement and somehow make the animals appear realistic, save for Grandma Poss's apron, slippers, and books, of course.  And Hush's personality shines through, even though she's technically invisible.

Boo isn't quite as fond of this one as he is of Mem Fox's Koala Lou, but we've still read it often enough I can recite the majority by heart.  He especially gets a kick out of repeating a rough estimation of the word 'kookaburra' a hundred bazillion times in a row, though he's quick to tell me to hush up ("Finished singing!") if I dare start "Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree...". 

Apparently I should stop waiting by the phone for Broadway to call.

Happily for those of us who aren't experts in Australian cookery, there's a glossary in the back which describes each dish mentioned.  If you notice this glossary right away instead of months later like me, you'll be spared the 0.32-second-long anticipatory wince while waiting for Google to spit back an image of a Lamington that isn't in fact a dead sea anemone on a plate like you for some bizarre reason envisioned.

I'm hoping my Australian cousins never find this entry.  I'll never live it down.

Autism Spectrum Bonus: Any child with a Special Interest in Australia, animals, food, or capital cities will probably be fond of this one.  With older kids, you might be able to have a conversation on why Grandma Poss wanted to protect Hush, and why Hush wants so badly to see herself again.

Bottom Line:
Mem Fox makes book magic.
She makes Boos grin
and Mommies sing.
She makes possums grow
and lyrics ring.
But the best magic of all...
is the magic that makes Australia visible.


Possum Magic at

Possum Magic at


  1. "Lyrical" is exactly how I would describe Mem Fox's books. We haven't seen this one yet! I'll have to check it out.

  2. If you're already a fan of Mem Fox, I have no doubt you'll enjoy it, Christianne.


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